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THB Photo/Don Knight 8/25/05 Steve and Lynelle

Dear Steve and Lynelle,

I have a major problem. Right now, I’m not working. I’m trying to find a job working by myself but it’s hard to find one. I have problems with difficult people. Instead of ignoring them, I just don’t come back to work and retreat into my comfort zone, which is my home. I’ve tried to find counselors but I can’t afford them. I’ve had this problem for a long time. What should I do? I need your advice.

Lynelle: I think most of us deal with difficult people on a daily basis, but the majority keep coming back to work and learn to deal with it.

I’m really sorry you have to deal with this, but I think this goes beyond just finding a new job. It sounds like you are having trouble functioning around people in general. I really encourage you to speak with a professional about this. I know you say you can’t afford it, but there are support groups and organizations that can really help you out by teaching you how to interact with people, especially difficult people. The Center for Mental Health and hospitals can not only provide care for you but be able to refer you to quality programs that have financial assistance available.

I can’t think of a job that doesn’t deal with people in some form or another, and everyone can be difficult at times. Even if you work from home you will have to deal with people at some point. I also don’t know how healthy it would be to stay in your “comfort zone.” It sounds like you would really like to change and finding a job working alone will not help you accomplish this.

I would not hesitate to get professional help in this matter. In the meantime, talk to family and friends about this. Get a support group around you to help. Find people you are really comfortable with and know you can trust. It might not be easy to admit you have a problem to them, but they will be able to help. Good luck and I hope you find a job soon.

Steve: I know someone like you. There’s a part of me that wants to say you’re probably smarter than people who jump into the rat race each day, put up with objectionable people and are expected to come back for more.

But we do because we have to make a living. Retreating in order not to face difficult people means that those people are controlling your life. You need to do that. I’m wondering exactly what difficult people do to you. And I’m wondering if a lot of it is in your imagination.

Do your homework when dealing with people. Understand them, and you can be one step ahead of them. They’ll still get to you, but you have to stand up for yourself. Unless you’re an entrepreneur who has a product or service, you’ll have to work for someone else.

Lynelle is right, however, this problem is one you won’t be overcoming on your own. Seeking out help will let you recognize your fears and determine how to counter them.

Be assured, however, this is fear. To overcome fear you have to put yourself in situations that you find uncomfortable. There’s no teacher like experience. Once you get all the advice, counseling, self-esteem boosts and lectures you want, ultimately you’ll just have to do it. Let us know how it goes.

Steve and Lynelle want to give you advice! They are always looking for good questions to answer, so pass on your drama, dating disasters, relationship woes and any problems that come your way. Write to them at or send a letter to them at 1133 Jackson St., Anderson, IN 46016. Too frustrated to write? Call Steve at (765) 640-4863 or Lynelle at (765) 640-4847. Advice columnists Steve Dick and Lynelle Miller bring unique perspectives to your problems each Tuesday.

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